Fire in a Hole: Studying How Flames Grow in Space

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A group of scientists and engineers exam a components of Saffire we (background) and Saffire II (foreground) Credits: NASA

A group of scientists and engineers exam a components of Saffire we (background) and Saffire II (foreground)
Credits: NASA

Understanding how glow spreads in a microgravity sourroundings is vicious to a reserve of astronauts who live and work in space.  And while NASA has conducted studies aboard a space convey and International Space Station, risks to a organisation have forced these experiments to be singular in distance and scope.

Now a new experiment, designed, built and managed during NASA’s Glenn Research Center, will light an bargain of microgravity glow on a most incomparable scale.  The Spacecraft Fire Experiment, famous as Saffire, is a array of experiments to be launched on 3 conflicting flights commencement subsequent spring.

“A booster glow is one of a biggest organisation reserve concerns for NASA and a general space scrutiny community,” says Gary Ruff, Saffire plan manager.

Saffire will engage distant incomparable abandon than prior experiments and will examine a approach glow spreads on a accumulation of flamable materials. Because a experiments will be conducted divided from a space station, there is no risk to a astronauts aboard.

Each Saffire examination will be remotely operated inside a 3 x 5 feet module, separate into dual compartments.  One side of a procedure is an avionics brook that contains sensors, high clarification video cameras and vigilance estimate equipment.  The other side contains a hardware compulsory to light a vast glow and bake a fabrics and materials inside.

NASA Glenn operative Tom Hudach wires electrical components on one of Saffire’s avionics panels. Credits: NASA

NASA Glenn operative Tom Hudach wires electrical components on one of Saffire’s avionics panels.
Credits: NASA

When a experiments begin, Saffire we and III will bake one vast 16 by 37 in. square of SIBAL cloth, a brew of fiberglass and cotton.  This element has been complicated in prior microgravity explosion experiments, nonetheless during a most smaller size. The SIBAL cloth will be burnt from a bottom to see how a glow spreads.  If a glow extinguishes itself, scientists will light it during a tip and see what happens as a glow moves conflicting to a airflow.

Saffire II will light a brew of 9 conflicting samples of materials used customarily on a space hire including glow retardant fabrics used for wanderer clothing, hire Plexiglas window samples with corner variations and structures used for storage containers and silicone composites. Each representation is dual by 11 inches, a distance representation NASA uses to shade materials on Earth before they are used on a spacecraft.

Concepts for additional Saffire missions- IV, V, VI are in growth focusing some-more on glow spread, fume propagation, showing and termination of fire.

“Saffire seeks to answer dual questions,” says David Urban, element investigator.  “Will an ceiling swelling glow continue to grow or will microgravity extent a size?  Secondly, what fabrics and materials will locate glow and how will they burn?”

The payloads will join a float on a resupply goal to a space hire in an Orbital ATK Cygnus load car and will be launched commencement subsequent spring.  When any Cygnus car arrives, astronauts will unpack their supplies, though Saffire will sojourn on house Cygnus.

“Within a initial day after Cygnus pulls divided from a space station, we will start a experiment, that will run autonomously once a RUN authority is sent,” says Steven Sinacore, emissary plan manager.  “It will usually take a few hours to run a experiments, though Cygnus will sojourn in space for 7 days to safeguard finish information delivery behind to a Saffire operations group on a ground.”  Eventually, Saffire, along with Cygnus, will bake adult during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.

As NASA continues to send astronauts to a space hire and continues a trail toward a tellurian goal to Mars, improving bargain of a structure of booster fires is critical.  “Saffire is all about gaining a improved bargain of how glow behaves in space so NASA can rise improved materials, technologies and procedures to revoke organisation risk and boost space moody safety,” says Ruff.

Source: NASA